My take on “Attitude by Margaret Atwood”

Simply beautiful. If you are not familiar with this wonderful speech of Margaret Atwood on Attitude, which was given to a group of graduates of University of Toronto during commencement ceremony in 1983, you should read it here now. Do know that the reading of or listening to her speech is not required for you to read (or skim) the rest of this blog post. I merely recommend it just so I would like you all to feel as inspired and motivated like I get each and every time I read or skim through it.

Here is a quote that represents the essence of Margaret Atwood’s speech:

You may not be able to alter reality, but you can alter your attitude towards it, and this, paradoxically, alters reality. Try it and see. – Margaret Atwood during commencement ceremony for graduates of University of Toronto in 1983

How do people come up with such inspiring and motivating sentences?  What goes on their mind when they pen them? What were they thinking? Where were they at the time? Do they just come to them as naturally as one breathes or takes days to get them down to that level of perfection?

Her words are true. No matter how bad life gets, it is up to us as to how we choose to react to those uncomfortable and painful moments. As Margaret Atwood says in her speech, every single matter has two sides, positive and negative. It is entirely dependent upon our goals, values, experiences, and attitude to either side with the negative side or the positive side of the issue we might be dealing with now or later in the future. I am not sure whether the following saying is universal; however, in India, we have a saying somewhat as follows: “Everything happens for our own good.” Is any one of you familiar with this? I was listening to this spiritual discourse given by a religious leader the other day and the person giving the discourse told us about a moral story that illustrates both Atwood’s speech and the aforementioned saying. The story is as follows:

There were once a king and his advisor. They used to have long discussions over various topics. The advisor is such an optimistic guy as he always manages to find positivity in everything. Even if he were to encounter an accident, he would undoubtedly find some bright side to it. He would always find one way or another to bring up the idea of divine providence into every conversation he engages in with anyone. He connects every event, be it small or significant, to God. As the king likes outings, he invited the advisor for hunting in a forest. The advisor was given a rifle for hunting. Do keep in mind that our sweet advisor never before handled a rife up until that moment! And so, he fumbled and fumbled with the rifle to get used to the weight of it in his hands. At some point during all that fumbling, he, inadvertently, shot the rifle, which was pointing at the king at that precise moment. The king screamed in pain! The rifle shot one of the king’s fingers off!  Event then, the advisor kept saying that it all happened for our own good to the king at which point the king became frustrated and said, “You stupid person! Are you blind? Can’t you see that I am injured and bleeding? Can’t you feel my pain? How can you say that this all happened for my own good when ,obviously, I am in excruciating pain? How can you expect me to forgive you? You are rejoicing my agony and suffering, aren’t you?”  Without even wanting to listen to the advisor’s apologies, he put our dear advisor in prison with an indefinite sentence.The king slowly, but surely, recovered from the injury. One day, as usual, he went for an outing to an unknown place, where he met a hideous giant. This particular giant that the king came across likes to eat human beings. The king became panic-stricken at such an encounter!! The giant has this habit of inspecting his “merchandise” before feasting on them. He asked the king, “Oh human being, are you whole? Any body parts missing?” To this, the frightened king was not able to form any words. But the giant was impatient and growled, “Oh you, are you deaf or what? Didn’t you hear me asking you a question?” This time, our poor king said, “N-n–no sir! I have a finger missing due to an uneventful hunting experience. The giant then said, “How sad for me!! I do not eat men that have their body parts missing. I will have to find another human being.” With that, the giant left. The king then thought of the advisor that he put in the jail. Now he realizes the value of being optimistic. He hastily returned to his village and proceeded to release the advisor. The king, upon releasing the advisor, apologized to him, relayed his encounter with the giant, and happily shared his enlightenment. The advisor then said, “Oh king! I am so happy for you! See? I kept telling you that everything happens for our own good. Everything has a positive side if you choose to look at it. And, being in jail also did some good for me.” At this point, the perplexed king asked, “Oh intelligent one, how can you think of your time spent in jail as pleasant? Please explain you reasoning.” The advisor said, “Oh king, so simple. If I was not in jail, you would have asked me to accompany you on that outing of yours. Then we both would have encountered that giant. After learning that you have a finger missing, he would have moved on to me. He would have devoured me right then and there as all my body parts are intact.” After hearing this, the king was amazed by the ever unrelenting optimism of his advisor. Since then, the king learned to accept everything in his life with optimism and enjoyed the rest of his tranquil life.

As you can see, the attitude that we choose to be in is entirely dependent upon us. You can either choose to see the glass as half empty or half full. If it is the latter that you choose, then you will have no issues with anything that you might encounter in life. If you cannot change an inevitable event, then it is better to accept it and work around it rather than waste your energy over being sad and depressed about it. You are the only person that has control over your feelings and attitude. No one else but you can initiate the necessary change to live your life as happily and blissfully as possible. You are in charge of your life. Take control. It is your life so make it work for you. If you happen to run into troubles, do not choose to escape them but rather face them with determination and self confidence. There is nothing that you cannot do as a human being. Other creatures living alongside us on this Earth are incapable of reasoning, unlike us. Do not let some bad events define the way you choose to live or face problems for the rest of your life. That is not you. You are much stronger and courageous than that sort of life. Let us not let problems scar our lives but rather wear them as proud accessories on us. Make them add meaning to your life, not make your life a meaningless one on this Earth.

Let us all try Atwood’s tip and see how it goes for us.

Pomegranate Lover

Daily Posts, Short Stories

Unexpected Guests!

You walk into your home to find a couple you don’t know sitting in your living room, eating a slice of cake. Tell us what happens next.

I have always looked forward to seeing my wife’s beautiful face after spending a long day at work. Though it has been many years since our marriage, not once have I ever felt bored of her or our marriage. And I know for a fact that this is a mutual feeling between us.

I knocked on the door expecting my wife to open it and welcome me with a light but passionate kiss on my lips to home as she had always done. I even brought her flowers today. She would love ’em. She loves flowers.

No answer, so tapped a few times again thinking maybe she was watching TV. But still, no answer.

I put my left ear to the door craning to hear any sounds from our TV. In fact, I did. Could she have gone out and forgot to turn off the TV, maybe? If so, she would have called me at work and let me know about her plans.

This isn’t like her. Something is definitely wrong here. I took out my phone and punched in her phone number and waited for her to pick up. It is ringing but she is not picking up so it took me to her voice mail.

Hey, this is Mary. Sorry I didn’t get your call, leave a message and I will get back to you as soon as I can. Ciao!

My palms are sweating as I begin to worry about her. It is not good to worry without knowing anything so I try as best as I can to keep calm and cool. But it’s hard.

It is a good thing that I have the house keys on me but it might take a few minutes to find them in my laptop bag as I haven’t used them in years. My hands are shaking as I try to find them in haste. Finally, found it! It was buried under many many layers of papers.

With shaking hands, I frantically tried to put the key into the lock and pushed open the door.

I see two unknown people sitting on my sofa eating my cake and watching my TV in my living room. Who in the world are they? I don’t remember seeing them anywhere in my life and I have a photographic memory.

“Who are you people? Where is my wife? And what the fuck are you doing in my house?”

“Oh, calm down, you silly! We are Mary’s friends and just here taking care of business,” said the lady with a very annoying high pitched voice.

Dammit! Mary!

“MARY! MARY!” I cried out but I didn’t hear a reply back.

I left the couple, who claimed they were Mary’s “friends”, to their business. I am going to deal with them later. My first priority is to find my wife and see if she is okay and ask her if they truly are her friends.

I went room to room in hopes of finding Mary but no sight of her. I went upstairs and as I was about to open the door to our bedroom, I hear muffled sounds coming from inside. Cautiously, I opened the door and saw Mary tied to one of our bedposts.

“Oh my God! What happened? Are you alright? What is that blood on your face?” I shrieked while I untied her.

Mary wiggled out and hugged me hard. She is shaking all over and I tried to soothe her by hugging back.

What must have happened? Who had done this to her and why?

“It’s all right, I’m here,” I kept saying in her ear and she gradually calmed down.

“Ar-ar-ar are they still here?” she stuttered.

“Yes, they are,” I said, “I get a feeling that they are not your friends. Do you know them?”

“What? They are still here?!! Have they told you anything at all other than telling you that they were my friends?”

“Not that I remember, no,” I answered and she sighed in relief.

“Listen, John, they are not my friends and have come to seize our estates and whatever money we have!”

I was perplexed and I don’t understand why she was tense. “What are you saying? Who are they to take our properties? I don’t remember ever meeting them, let alone owing them anything.”

“John, take a seat on the bed. I have things to tell you that I have been keeping them secret. I hope you forgive me for this.” she let go of me and took me to the bed and sat down next to me.

“Mary, as long as I have known you, you have never kept anything from me,” I said.

“John, calm down. I am ashamed of what I have done. I am sorry for bringing you and me into this situation. I thought that I could manage it but obviously, I didn’t. While you were away at work, I have been participating in women clubs. At first, it was just something to pass my time but gradually it turned into an addiction that I hate now. It just started out as playing with fake money then as I got into it more, I began to use real money. The reason I needed money was to bid on some valuable objects such as jewelry and stuff. I kinda bid using your money and the estate documents. The couple downstairs are here to get them, either we like it or not. Like I said – ” I started to move away from her.

It took me a minute to understand what she was saying. But I got one thing clear, she has been using me.

I cannot stand this anymore. I stood up and paced around the room trying to calm myself down.

I interrupted her, “What? You didn’t feel like telling that to me before? You did all this BEHIND MY BACK? WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH THE PEOPLE DOWN IN MY LIVING ROOM?”

She shuddered at the volume of my voice. I don’t blame her and I was surprised myself. Well, what did she expect? Thought that I would speak softly as I have always done? Hell no!

I have never shouted like this before, especially at my wife, who apparently is not the same person as I thought she was. I feel bad for shouting at her but I have no idea how to respond to what she was telling me.

“John, calm down, please. You cannot let them hear us. We will deal this together. Listen-”

She didn’t give an answer to my question regarding those strangers.

“Calm down? You are telling me to calm down when I have two complete strangers in my house? I trusted you with my life. You cheated me.”

I took her by surprise as I grabbed at her neck.

“John! Leave me!!! HELP!!”

I had my hands around her neck and tried to squeeze life out of her deceptive soul. But I let her go, I just couldn’t do it. The relationship we had would not let me do what I really wanted to do. She coughed as she tried to get her normal flow of breathing back.

The couple came to the bedroom as they heard Mary’s plea for help.

The lady came running to where Mary was trying to breathe and helped her get up and out of my way.  She took her to the opposite side of the room while the man who has not spoken nothing pulled my arms to my back and tied them up. “Oh Mary! Are you alright, dear? I told you carry a gun but you didn’t listen to me. Thank god we decided to stay. I will take care of him.”

“No, I will. Let me finish this. This is my game, I will do it my way.” Mary said in a determined tone.

As I tried to wiggle my hands out of the ropes, the man spoke for the very first time. “Stay. Don’t make us hurt you anymore than we have to.”

Mary walked across the room and stood in front of me.

“Now John, give me the money and the documents. We won’t hurt you. Do as I tell you or you might regret this.”

“What is this new act? I thought you owed them money. So you are the leader of this gang, wow! You conned me!”

“Yes, I did, so what? I tried to be nice but you didn’t let me. Enough discussing about me. Tell me, what is the code to your case that contains money and property documents?”

“I won’t tell you.”

“Don’t irritate me now. I got a gun as you can see. I won’t think twice before killing you off.” Mary said through her gritted teeth. She had the gun to my forehead and cocked it. It is ready to fire with one click.

I gulped. ” Ok ok…I will tell you the code only if you give me that gun.”

The man spoke for the second time, “Shut up. No one is giving you any guns -”

Mary interrupted him, “Ok, fine, I will give it to you. Tom, untie him please.”

Tom tried to convince, “Don’t trust him, Ana. He -”

I looked at the lady thinking Ana was her name but she wasn’t the one who spoke next. It is Mary.

“Do as I say or else,” ordered Ana.

The man, whose name is supposedly Tom, nodded his head and did what he was told.

Ana? She even lied to me about her name. Who is she and who was the person married me? Mary, or whoever she was, handed me the gun as per the deal.

“Tell me the code.” Ana ordered.

“It is 06191990. Do you know why I picked those numbers? They represent the date of our marriage. I don’t think you even remember that. I have been conned and cheated. I hate myself for believing in you up until this moment. I hate you! You even lied to me about your name. You are a disgrace to everything that I thought you were. Why did you pick me? Of course, my money. You made me a fool. You made me fall in love with you just so you could get your filthy hands on my money and property. You used me! I fucking hate myself because after all that you have done, I am still in love with you. All these years, you never felt anything for me? Everything you said or done since we first started living together was a lie. You built my life and yours around lies! Everything was a lie! Why did you make go through all this? Why? You know how much I have loved you and unfortunately for me, I still love you. Dammit Mary! Oh no, I am not calling you Ana, you will always be my sweet and innocent Mary to me. Always, as long as I live. Listen to me, whoever that fucking lady is will take care of putting my money in that bag of yours. Face me or I will have to pull the trigger. I love you. I always have and will. I know my Mary is in you somewhere. She is in there somewhere, I know. I want to stab myself with a knife multiple times for admitting to you, Ana, that I am still in love with you. You are one fucking bitch. I love you more than I hate you. I cannot live like this. I just cannot. I don’t think I can ever accept the fact that you are different person than the one I am used to. I just can’t. You underestimated me, Mary. I know that you have only weapon and you gave it to me. You were sure that I wouldn’t kill you because you know that I am a sucker for you. Well you are correct cause I am a sucker for you! You were not at all scared if I would your friends you got there. But you were damn sure that I was not going to kill you. Think again. Forgive me, but you are coming with me wherever I go. After you, my lady. I love you. You wait for me, ok?”

I pulled the trigger at her. I did it, I finally did it! I killed her, my first and last love. I killed my Mary. Now it is time for me to follow her as I have always done.

The couple are long gone with the money. Greedy folks! I hope that money and documents brings them no good.

I am coming, Mary. I pulled the trigger again, this time at myself.

The End

This is my first story ever! I didn’t revise it so you might have found a lot of mistakes. You are welcome to critique it and offer any suggestions you might think of. Thanks in advance. Looking forward to what you got to say about it.